Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has filed an amendment to a tax extenders bill expected to be considered by the Senate today. The amendment would reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and, according to a press release from D.C. Parents for School Choice, would “preserve the program for current and future students”. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are co-sponsors.
As Virginia Walden Ford and I wrote last week in a post on The Corner, school choice and educational opportunity have become the civil rights issue of our time:
While D.C. schools lead in violence, they rank among the lowest in academic performance. More than 60 percent of fourth-graders cannot read at a basic level.
Fifty years ago, African Americans fought to enroll their children in public schools that would give their children an equal chance for a quality education. Boys and girls stood in the doorways of previously all-white schools that didn’t want them, on the threshold of opportunity.
But today’s schools are not the same schools they fought to get into. Too many of today’s schools are failing African American and Hispanic students. In the 1950s, politicians stood at the door to keep African American students out. Now, they are standing at the door to keep them in.
The Obama administration continues to promote policies that deny low-income children in the nation’s capital the opportunity to receive a safe and effective education. His FY 2011 budget slashed D.C. OSP funding, leaving just $8 million (after administrative costs) for scholarship recipients for the remainder of their time in the program. This president – himself a scholarship recipient as a child and who has chosen to send this own children to private school – has failed to support the same opportunities for District children. Children who, for the first time in decades, have found an effective education in Washington, D.C.
And parents of scholarship students are keenly aware of this. Latasha Bennett, a mother of scholarship students has a few questions for the president in the video above.